Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I came across a study of AA the other day the got me to thinking. It addressed the autonomy of each group and the problems that this autonomy can cause. Basically, any group of people can get together and call themselves an AA group. No license is required.

So I could gather a bunch of friends together who think like me - control freaks who believe in "my way or the highway"; who think that if you don't believe in God (our God) you're never gonna get sober and will surely burn in hell; who belittle the newcomer as someone who's a worthless piece of shit 'cause they don't know nothin'. Oh, and the 12 steps aren't suggestions - they're the only way to get sober. These friends carry around the Big Book (large print, paper back edition of course 'cause that's the biggest one) and are always thumbing through it during the meetings. Their idea of a "discussion" is to quote from the Bib Book. They've never had an original thought in their lives. Get the Idea?

So we start this AA group, register with GSO and inter-group, and get our meeting on the area schedule. And in walks this poor drunk, desperate for help, not knowing where to turn. He's ignored before, during, and after the meeting. How long do you think this poor guy is going to stick around? What's his impression of AA going to be based on this singular experience? I'll give you odds that he'll never attend another meeting. He'll also be the first in line to believe AA is a religious cult run by a bunch of fanatics. He's convinced he's right and he is. His perceptions are based on his experience and are his reality.

Sound farfetched? It's not. This shit is going on every day. We've all been to meetings that in some way resemble the one I described. Yeah, these meetings are far outnumbered by groups of people who follow the program as it was intended to be followed . But nonetheless, one bunch of assholes can do a lot of damage, not just to the reputation of AA but more importantly to the newcomers who reach out to us and run into this shit. AA is losing it's attraction because these people are accurately telling others about their experience with the program. It's the damage these morons who call themselves AA do to the newcomer that can keep me awake at night. When I read some attacks or criticisms of AA I can understand where these people are coming from. They were never exposed to AA, they were exposed to a bunch of idiots who are an anathema to everything we represent.

Now getting back to the study. It questioned the wisdom of the tradition of autonomy based on just the type of thing I outlined. It suggested that AA may want to revisit it's insistence on autonomy and consider instead a means of standardization, preventing groups like this from calling themselves AA. Groups would still be "autonomous" but would be required to adhere to certain standards if they wished to be considered an AA group.

So. This might solve the problem of the poor drunk who walked in the doors of hell looking for sobriety. Or would it? Are required standards the answer to the problem? Yeah, we have the 12 Traditions but nothing requires an AA group to abide by them.
You're an AA group if you call yourself one just as you're a member if you say you are.

So here's my question. Is the solution to the problem I described one of enforced standardization as the study suggests? Or would this open Pandora's Box and be the first step down that slippery slope to centralized authority? And if standardization isn't the answer, what is? Sometimes we only get one shot at showing a newcomer what AA is all about. Think how many times we miss that opportunity because of these "AA groups"; how many lives are ruined because some people never get to see what we're really all about. I accept that AA isn't for everyone but, damn it, we could at least make sure they understand the program before they decide if it'll work for them.

Your thoughts?


  1. One reason why membership is on the decline. On one hand you've got the MOTR "Do as you please" crowd who are all about meetings and fellowship and service and on the other hand you've got the rigid, holier than thou groups. I don't think much can be done about it, it is the way A.A. has evolved. All we can do, and by we , I mean groups like the one I belong to is to quietly live the life we've been given, making sure that when an alcoholic wanders in, that he or she will see and hear an A.A. group doing what it is supposed to do.

  2. Yeah Jim, I don't have any great answers here either. But the way this is going, will AA evolve itself out of existence because we're not getting the right message out there?

    Our purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety. How the hell can we do that when the program is often misunderstood by those on the outside and is being hijacked by the MOTRs and holier than thous? I don't think we're (and by "we" I mean groups like yours and mine) doing enough sometimes to stop this shit. I know that AA is a program of attraction but it's failing here big time. Is some sort of promotion an answer? Bill Wilson always said AA has to evolve or it won't survive. It's not evolving.

    I said earlier in a comment that AA has been around for a long time and I don't think it's threatened by attacks from Orange and that crowd. I still think that. But I'm beginning to worry that the real threat is from within, both from the whacko groups and from the thought that maybe we're too comfortable. Complacency is a real threat to an alcoholic. It's equally dangerous to the group as a whole.

    Maybe it's time to change some stuff. Maybe we should look at promotion. This blog was started as a reactive measure. We sit here and respond. That's a small step in the right direction. And maybe it's all we can do. I don't like it, though. That's why I threw it up for discussion. Maybe someone out there has a better idea.

  3. I wanted to respond to the last post.
    I'm 'something' and I'm not God.....

    But this is the post that got me thinking about God in a practical way. If I accept the proposition that God is all powerful then I don't have to worry about AA (or anti-AA) and only need to seek to do His will to the best of my ability.

    I suspect AA has always had MOTRS and control freaks. I remember reading about Clarence S who started the first AA group. Dr Bob's boys came over and almost had a fist fight. He was going to 'ruin' AA (although I'm not sure it was AA yet)

    We can't control the big picture, only what we do. And the street view is dirty and nasty. We only get the hill top view from history.

    I've been reflecting on that from the anti-AA point of view lately. But I think it applies both ways.

    So, just as I've concluded (for me) that it's not my job to worry about anti-AA, it's probably not my job to worry about AA as a whole either. My job is to be the best AA member I can be today. I have a different understanding of AA now than I did 10 years ago, 10 years from now it will be different still. The longer I come around the more I have to practice humility and acceptance so I don't become one of those angry old timers the ST crew likes to complain about. I hated them when I was new too.
    Sure there might be something 'that' important.
    But most things simply aren't.

    Yeah, AA is a mess. But it always has been. That's the miracle of the whole thing.....

    Now, you want my opinion. Fine.
    But I don't think I can take my opinion as more than what it is. I use it during the group conscience. It's one vote. That's why God is everything. He tallys the votes and gets his way.

  4. I think we ought to suggest to AAWS that Merit Badges be handed out for each step. They can then be stuck to the cover of our books. That way we can see who's full of shit and who's not. All too often it happens. We can't give away something we haven't got. Right? Bullshit. We do it all the time. I know you just got here and admitted you're powerless. Now read Pg 86 and 87 every night. That way you can jump from step one to step ten in your first appearance. I have a new guy working on #4. While sitting in a meeting with him it was suggested he write some good things about himself in his inventory. This came from an AA who has been around quite a while and supposedly has been through the steps himself. Uhhh,No! But. I did take the opportunity to dispel this malarkey after the meeting with the bad news. Sorry dude. No atta Boys yet. Besides. There isn't a column for that.
    In a nutshell I can only do what I can do. Aren't I a small part of a great whole? Aren't I allowed to be autonomous in carrying "My" message? I am if a Group is allowed to carry "It's" message. So I would think.
    My opinion is that those weak or MOTR groups are for fishing. We go from time to time to make sure they still suck and to grab prospects out of by telling them that there's a lot more to AA than what they hear in this meeting.

  5. Love the discussion. We've got everybody except for Rob B. Wish he would tune in.

    I don't know too many "Asshole" meetings where know-it-alls chop heads and run newcomers out. I do know of a few meetings where a group of people do steps and know the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic and if they think you're...

    a)not a real alcoholic or,
    b)a real alcoholic who doesn't really give a fuck...

    they will sort of run you out. But even still, if you sit back and say, "Go fuck yourself, I'm staying", then you can probably stay. But why would you want to? Poor innocent newcomer or not. No, you can go out and find a nice "Let us love you till you kill yourself" meeting... or as Big Frank would say, "Go out and drink some more... or find some more merciful group."

    And guess what? We don't give a flying fuck what happens to A.A. A.A. can go drink. We are staying sober... no matter what. We're doing steps out of that book and that's that. Try and stop us. Call us assholes if you want.

    I don't think the poor innocent newcomer is such a down and out fool. I think they attract to what they need. They may be down and out and hurting... for the moment, but I think the real alcoholic is cat-like in some ways. We have a knack for landing on our feet and striving in chaos and adversity. We build a structure under our feet, only to tear it down with a series of senseless sprees. "The goose hung high." We don't give up easy. But when we do... we have the gift of desparation and we have a very small window of opportunity to "listen" for a moment.

    Ask yourself this; how many times have you seen a newcomer come into A.A. with the same desparation as you did when you came off of your last drunk? Not too fucking often in my case. When I last came in, I had nothing to lose, no hope, some fear and apprehension, and I was ready for a fight. But I was met with two very simple questions;

    a)Do you think you have a problem with booze?


    b)Do you want to do something about it? Are you ready to quit for good and all? Are you ready to "get in" all the way?

    When I said "yes" and "yes" to those questions, I was then told, "Alright. Get in and do these steps. Get writting. Be open to your 1st Step. Be open to the 2nd Step. Decide and move. It's all up to you, Bud. Either you're gonna do this stuff or you're not.

    Guess where my group placed the ball? That's right. In my fucking court. 100%

    You can't get me sober, even if you tried with all your might. Never could, and never will.

    I've found 3 good A.A. meetings in my town of 100,000 and consider my own meeting to be good too. But we ain't popular either.

    "You gotta look to find real alkies now." -Frank McKibbon, RIP

  6. Really good topic, Joe, and one that I have given some thought to myself. I have met too many people and groups who have acted just as you have described.
    Maybe the answer lies in local intergroup offices; just because a group calls itself an AA group doesn't necessarily mean that the local area office has to:
    1.list it in their meeting list,
    2.refer people to it over the phone,
    3.recognize the group's delegates to the intergroup overseeing committee,
    4.accept funds from the group, or
    5.supply the group with books,pamphlets, etc..
    All these measures should be taken carefully, and with input from all other groups who may be affected by the actions of one bad group.
    If AA doesn't evolve soon, it will lose relevance and gradually die, eventually leaving recovering alcoholics without any human support for their battle with addiction. That human support is the one factor that anti-AA people seem to forget. I am not speaking of the meetings or their content (steps and traditions) but of the companionship of others traveling the same road.
    Maybe AA will split into different camps, a "traditional" one like today, and a "reformed" one that keeps the good ideas and replaces the rest (like: medicine should not be taken, sponsors know all, etc.). The Big Book is long overdue for rewriting, with today's knowledge and values replacing the old. I don't think that spiritual progress should be discouraged, but I have never believed that it is the cure for alcoholism (which is a mental and physical disease as well).
    Inventories are just a fancy way of saying "know yourself", I believe, and should include the positive facts about the person!
    Saying just that at AA meetings in my area has made me friends with the newcomers, but has led to my nearly universal banning and shunning from others. In western NY, AA has indeed become much more dogmatic than ever, and it cannot see that it is killing itself by becoming so.
    Let me close by saying that I was sober 30 years July of 2009, and almost no one in AA took note of that due to my being regarded as a "heretic". I'm still sober, even without their coin and cake!

  7. Yeah, Good discussion here. I like Tony's comment about the down and dirty street view. "Cause that's what we have. And it looks different down in the trenches than from some ivory tower.

    We have enough on our plates dealing with the every day problems this fucking addiction. AA is going to survive. Again to quote again from the wisdom of Tony J., AA's a mess and has always been a mess. And that's the miracle. I have to remind myself of that every once in a while.

    I think that eventually something's gonna give here, though. Either the asshole groups are gonna encounter the survival of the fittest thing and go back into their caves, or AA's gonna have to step and do a little housecleaning. Either way, it'll all be good....

    We're just a bunch of honest drunks who're doing the best we can. It's all we can do. Well, that and Cuda's vigilante approach. Go fishing and pull the "babies" out of harm's way. Around here (Tidewater Virginia) the fishing is pretty good. Lots of groups to choose from.

    So I guess the answer to my original question is that there is no answer, at least from where we stand. Like Dowg said, do the steps from the book. Keep pressing the concept of personal responsibility. We can't get anyone sober, but we sure a shit can offer them a way out of their miserable fucking lives. If someone wants it bad enough, like we did, they'll find us.

  8. Sorry Ralph, we crossed paths here and I didn't see your comments. You're seeing the same problem I am. Maybe it's an East Coast thing.

    I don't think the inter-group can do as you suggest, though. You can form a group of guys who pop a keg while throwing darts at pictures of Bill Wilson and they'll be an AA group if they say they are. And GSO is gonna give them the magic group number. Them's the rules and inter-group doesn't have a lot to say about it.

    And I don't think my local inter-group is qualified to say shit, actually. They meet and fight for months over what brand of fucking computer printer to buy. Giving them any leeway in deciding what constitutes an AA group is fucking terrifying. Best to leave them out of it.

    Rewriting the Big Book is kind of radical, but keeping the original 164 pages and dropping some of the stories would allow for the addition of some stuff learned about addiction in the past 50 years. Like Bill Wilson said, AA will have to keep evolving or it'll die. I keep my mind open on the subject of change, but I think that it's gonna happen one way or the other.

    But that shit's above my pay grade. I'll just do what I can down here in the trenches. I take what I learned and offer it to someone who wants what I have. They have a choice of listening to me or not. I could give a shit less what others in the home group think about me. None of my business.

    I don't stay sober looking over my shoulder. I'm not gonna waste time getting into philosophical arguments about spirituality or moral inventories any more than I'm gonna argue with the Orange crowd. Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. I'll offer what I have. If someone wants it, they know where to come.

  9. joe cool said something about group likes his group & mine doing more to fight this trend. I don't know joe, I spent years trying to save AA, and all I accomplished was to become bitter and cynical. I'm done fighting. I'm tired of it. Personally, I think it has gone too far to stem the tide. Don Pritts told me one time that Alcoholics Anonymous as it is known today may have to die so that it can live, which I think is well on its way to happening. Maybe it needs to die, but as long as there are groups like joe's & Patrick's, & mine and individuals here and there doing the deal, it will live on. Maybe real A.A. will go underground, I don't know. I already know that a lot of old timers are tired of it and are meeting in homes and coffee shops.

    Got an email from a guy I know, 22 years sober. He's been a good AA, but he's at a crossroads. He's tired of A.A. meetings, tired of the self-defeating platitudes and the "let us love you sober" bullshit. He is considering walking from AA. I've considered it before myself. Our friend Rob B. just recently told me the same thing. I've just about quit going to meetings. I think I will, except to find new guys to work with.

    As for changing the 164, no way. It works and it works well if applied. Call me a fundamentalist, but I stand firm on that.

  10. I had a long talk with Joe H. about this subject one time. He told me that after he returned from India that he got very tired of ragging on the fellowship. He was considering walking from AA. After all, he had just spent five years in a place where there were no AA meetings. But then it came to him that he wouldn't have been able to do that and participate in the spiritual events of his life if Don P. hadn't decided to come out on a Friday night to a treatment center where Joe was at and carry that message into that place, a place where he didn't agree with the philosophy and where the success rate was discouraging. What Joe told me was "Carry the message to everybody and be there for the ones who want it."

  11. I don't think we're going to be able to fight this trend, Jim. How much it affects AA as a whole is anybody's guess. At our street level all we can do is try to do things as the Big Book suggests. It boils down to my mantra of staying sober and helping other alcoholics. Simple. I was just curious if anyone else saw some of the stuff I see and had any answers.

    In this small group of guys we differ on some points, but we all agree on the major issues. And that's a good thing. Disagreement invites discourse which leads to learning which leads to progress. AA as a fellowship is going to have to change on its own or it will eventually fragment and die. And the pressure for change is from within. It's not evolving. It still has the same mentality towards addiction that existed in 1935.

    But this doesn't mean change the core values or principles. Not on my watch. The first 164 are sacrosanct. But the stories? Are they all really necessary? Yeah, Dr. O's story with the statement "Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today" should probably be cast in bronze, but most of the others will disappear with the next printing. Another bunch of new stories will appear.

    Maybe AA should think outside the box. Rather than a bunch of testimonials, how about adding a section to the Big Book talking about what we know up to now about alcoholism? And somebody's gonna have to eventually address the fact that there aren't many kosher alcoholics that walk in the doors anymore. We're a rare breed. Now most of them are addicts, too. I'm even working with a guy who's a Pathological Gambler. WTF do I do with him? That was an even addressed as an issue until DSM III. No guidance anywhere about dealing with comorbidity of alcoholism and another addiction.

    But this is all wishful thinking. Nothing we're gonna be able to do about it other than talk. I'll keep going to meetings and hope that I never get burned out. But I'm lucky as there are 292 meetings in the local directory. I'll always be able to find a few that are good ones. Just keep carrying the message to those who want to hear it.

    And we're goin' fishing tomorrow night. Talked to some friends about Cuda's idea. Got an asshole group to visit. Gonna see if anyone needs to be pulled from harm's way.

  12. Thanks for the shoutout PAtrick,Jim is right, I'm at a crossroads, I am centered and dialed in, but I have had it with what passes for AA. I'm spending my time these days working with guys one on one. I have a weekly commitment I put on at a local wind up joint. I'll go back to AA when I need more guys to work with, maybe with a bit of luck I'll find a drunk.I'm done fighting, arguing, thumping the book and so forth. I have a good understanding of the traditions and concepts and the principles behind them, If I found a group that knew something about this I would consider becoming a member.

    I know I sound disgruntled, I'm not. It is tremendous freedom to know where my sobriety originates from, it sure isn't a room full of bullshit. I do enjoy this blog and check in on it regularly. You guys are all solid AA's in my book.

  13. Just got back from fishing.

    Actually, I just got back from a meeting that I normally don't go to due to my work hours. I had a doctor's appointment today, so I took off half a day. This meeting is what we (meaning most of us on this blog) would consider a MOTR meeting. It meets seven days a week at 3pm and is usually full of people there to get their slip signed. Lots of treatment center talk and slapping each other on the back because we have thirty days again, stuff like that.

    Anyway, I ended up being called on, which is unusual in meetings around here (another story). After the meeting I was approached by three men asking for sponsorship. Two of them had at one time, long term sobriety, but had relapsed a few years back and haven't been able to stay sober since. The other one is fairly new and said his current sponsor isn't giving him what I talked about in the meeting. Turns out, one of them is a client of the agency I work for, so I ended up hooking him up with another guy who was at the meeting, a friend of mine who is a solid, by-the-book AA. But the other two I am going to work with. Spent time qualifying them and going through the "Are you willing to go to any length" spiel with them. Of course the answer was yes, and I always say "We'll see." The one that had sobriety in the past had his book with him. It was all colored up and written in and I told him that he needed a new, unmarked book, that part of his problem was being attached to an experience he could never have again. He told me that I was the first person who had ever mentioned such a thing to him. I am going to meet him for coffee tomorrow and then go from there.

    All in all, not a bad day.

  14. Good again seeing you guys in here.

    I've been having a good new year and wish I could spread it around. I've been in a bad funk for about a year and a half and I feel free again.

    I have a part of me that wants to defend this tight step doing meeting I go to... but I guess it really needs no defending. It's doing fine... sometimes attendance is sparse, and sometimes when we least expect it, we get a few folks show up out of the blue and they comment positively about our meeting format and the challenging nature of our crossfire.

    But I also want to mention that I'm ok with even the MOTR meetings I sometimes go to. I don't need to give them a lesson on the steps anymore and what A.A. is and is not. Evidently, some folks are doing A-OK with MOTR. What are we supposed to do with that? Kick them out for not needing to do a set of steps? So if they can get and stay sober on "Don't drink... no matter what... and get to a meeting where everything is gonna be ok", then who am I to tell a 65 year old guy who's been sober for 17+ years that he's doing it wrong? I just wish some new folks who need a tad bit more could use their "MOTR" filters when they hear this.

    A guy from my group named Gary said something the other night that I have to agree with; "Some people do the steps and put their own stamp on it, but in the end, if they get good results and have a successful program and have a life worth living, that's what matters. It doesn't matter if they follow every single specific direction in the book, so much as the results they get from it.

    Something very strange about the Big Book and the Monday Nighters in Denver... they don't ever read from the book during their shares. The chair person reads a small passage from it on the front of the meeting, then discusses their current experience with a narrowed topic from that share... then a meditation and people are called on the share... their current experience with the topic at hand. This is the format that I've been following for my own personal walk in sobriety for some time. It's simple and it's fundamental. Now... as far as setting a good example or being useful to someone else or giving some unsuspecting newcomer some hope... it isn't in so much what I say at any given meeting. It has a lot to do with the context of my own life... and the attitude that I bring with me at any given moment.

    So, I can go to a MOTR meeting and get something from it and to be honest... I like the folks I see there. There's some good folks who go to these meetings and they are folks that I've seen in A.A. for going on 15 years. My parents moved back to southern Colorado 15 years ago, so I've seen these folks on and off for at least that long. So... whether intentional or not, there is a social aspect to it too.

  15. (Part 2)

    I don't mean to be negative in labeling some of these meetings as MOTR, but just to give an example of this, these meetings never have a topic that involves steps 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, or 11... unless it's the corresponding month and the Daily Reflections mentions it and the chair person picks it as a topic. Also, if there’s a new person in the room who's new off a drunk or has never been to A.A. before, these folks spaz out and cater to the person... declare that the topic needs to be about steps 1, 2, and or 3, and the folks in the room take their turn giving this new person advice on how to run their love life, advice on how to manage their career, how to arrange their social life so that it includes a meeting every day for the next 3 months, and to get those phone numbers. They might even mention to the person the need to picking up a book. All of this without listening for a second as to whether this person might even have a serious problem with booze or not. But they're gonna lay it out... how to not drink one day at a time and how to not worry about the God thing... for now.

    All I do during all of this is listen as best I can, look around the room and try to imagine who might need help in the steps, and if called upon to share, go to my current experience in... some topic that might relate to a step as it's laid out in that book.

    Joe Cool... I agree with you about the stories. I wouldn't miss about all but two. I'd pitch Dr Paul O's story and let the Alanons have it. I'd keep Dr Bob's Nightmare and "He Sold Himself Short". Those are my two favs.

    As far as my experience with the topic of alcoholism... it's a huge industry that makes a bunch of folks a lot of money and I aim to not earn another lawyer a new Land rover ever again.

    Rob B... thanks for stopping by and feel free to post away if you have a topic for discussion. We've recently seen some friction from our adversaries turn into intelligent and cordial discussion... and maybe we can turn the corner on the immature banter that's been going on. I've been so busy with work and all... when I get a shot at the computer in the evening, I'd like to spend less time "stirring the pot" and more time discussing real issues and solutions.

    I've heard the requests of you folks to tone things down and don't waste time fighting our adversaries... and I'm starting to understand why. I feel justified in defending something I know in my own experience as being worthwhile... but it's gotten me really no where. There's no battle to be won, no flag to hang. I've summed up my challenge to any "anti/AAer"... sorry for the label, but... as being this; tell me of an actual place, name, instance of abuse to humanity in my own town and I'll go investigate it and do my part to bring the situation or the instigating party to justice... if given the chance. In other words, if there's some folks in my home town harming anyone in A.A., I'll do something about it. If I see any predatory behavior, I'll bring it to the attention of the groups members and notify the authorities if need be. I can't put my attention to every alleged infraction that goes on in A.A. world wide.

    Underground, above ground, in a dusty old church basement, in somebody's living room... who cares? It's still the best show in town for a buck or two I say.

  16. Problems other than alcohol are addressed here... http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-35_ProOtherThanAlcohol1.pdf

    Basically Bill W. says that it's not AA's problem. The tradition of singleness of purpose is more important than someone's drug problems... They should find another group.

  17. Daily Reflections is not AAGSO literature.

    I do have the GSO guidelines that suggest that only AAGSO approved material should be available and read at meetings if you'd like to see it.

  18. http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/mg-09_literaturecommittees.pdf

  19. AA is similar to the Jehovas Witnesses when it comes to literature.

    "...the faithful and discreet slave" does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites that are not produced or organized under its oversight."
    Kingdom Ministry, September 2007, Question Box, p.3.
    The article concludes by saying Jehova's Witnesses should only read Watchtower literature!

    A.A.Guidelines for literature committees

    "The spirit of the 1977 Conference action regarding group literature displays be reaffirmed, and recommended the suggestion that A.A. groups be encouraged to display or sell only literature published and distributed by the General Service Office, the A.A. Grapevine and other A.A. entities."


  20. Gunthar2000 said...

    Basically Bill W. says ... They should find another group.

    Ain't it though?

  21. Gunthar, being the cynic that I am, I call "Daily Reflections" the "Daily Afflictions," because it is reflective of the current fellowship Most of the meetings around here use it as topic material. Those are the meetings I only go to once in a while. as has been said, I'm tired of fighting it. It isn't going to change.

  22. More on the subject of AA literature and GSO guidelines and other such bullshit.

    99% of our literature is garbage. Most of the pamphlets are unnecessary at best, with only a handful that contain anything of substance. The booklet "Living Sober" should be banned. I've already mentioned "Daily Afflictions." The GrapeVine is struggling financially, for a couple of reasons. Subscriptions are down due to declining membership and the fact that most of what is in it is fluff. I guess it truly is "our meeting in print," as it too is reflective of the current fellowship.

  23. "The spirit of the 1977 Conference action regarding group literature displays be reaffirmed, and recommended the suggestion that A.A. groups be encouraged to display or sell only literature published and distributed by the General Service Office, the A.A. Grapevine and other A.A. entities."

    Or what ?

    I agree with that idea as it helps keep the group focused on it's primary purpose. But I know plenty of groups that have plenty of non gso approved literature out on the tables. It's a matter of group autonomy. A 'suggestion' is just that. It's not a mandate.

    My son is going for his Eagle Scout now.
    The Boy Scout meetings only use BSA approved literature at their meetings.

    Are you willing to say the BSA (along with the JW's and AA) is a cult ?

    How about weight watchers. My wife was a member of that for a couple of years. Only WW approved literature.

    The net you're casting is rather wide, isn't it ?

    Gunthar, by all means tell us why you hate AA and why it didn't work for you and what you did to get sober without it. But this Fox News level conspiracy crap is just mental masturbation. It keeps you busy while you don't do useful things with your time. (imho)

    Jim :

    "Anyway, I ended up being called on, which is unusual in meetings around here (another story). "

    ROFLMAO !!!!! That means you're totally off base or totally on. No half measures........

  24. Gunthar, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say that Bill W states it's not AA's problem in the "Problems Other Than Alcohol" pamphlet. Granted, he says that a non-alcoholic narcotics addict can't call himself a member of AA. But any drug addict who is an alcoholic can.

    My issue was dealing with alcoholics who have other addictions, but more specifically gambling. My other point was that we're seeing a predominant number of people walk in the doors who are alcoholics/addicts. Very few kosher alcoholics left. Since the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking, all of the dual-addicted alcoholics who walk through the doors are AA's problem.

    But how the fuck do I deal with a guy who's an alcoholic and a gambler? And reading up on this shit there ain't a lot out there on comordial alcoholism and pathological gambling. But they're both addictions and I can't address the alcoholism without dealing with the gambling.

    And this is the shit that's happening out there. We're just not seeing it. There are a lot of alcoholics who have addictions other than drugs. One paper indicated that perhaps 15-20% of alcoholics are gambling addicts. What about addictions to sex, the internet, and all that other shit that we can have as another addiction?

    The problem we've got here is that we're taking on sponsees who have these other addictions and we don't know it. Very few will admit it, even in their 4th step. They rationalize that the other addiction doesn't matter 'cause this is an alcoholism program. They don't want to give up that other addiction. Then they never get sober, and we say they didn't want it badly enough or something.

    But they did want to get sober. They couldn't because of the secondary addiction. They both have to be dealt with at the same time. They have to have a program of recovery that deals with both alcoholism and the other problem. My only solution to my particular problem is that I'm gonna take this guy through two twelve steps at the same time. A 3rd step for alcoholism, a third step for gambling. A 4th step for alcohol, a 4th step for gambling. And so on. And I'll have to insist that he address each problem as a separate issue. Ain't gonna be a single list of character defects that covers both here. I dunno if that'll work, but it's all I can think of. But anyway Gunthar, it's good to have you join in.

    Patrick - We're gonna have to take a poll of the favorite stories. I'm not sure, thinking back on it, that the Big Book is the place for what I proposed. Maybe AA could publish a new book (not a fuckin' pamphlet) that addresses the topics of addiction, dual addictions including alcoholism, and recognizing that the majority of people who walk through the doors are dual addicted.

    There's a lot of shit they've found out in the past 20 years about alcohol and genes, where family history enters into it and how. A whole bunch of shit. It's stuff I like to know when dealing with sponsees. Let's me answer a bunch of questions they come up with, and gives me a better handle on what questions to ask them before I start working with them. Besides the basic screening ones, that is. Just a thought. And take a break from the studies. Jump in more often. Discussion is good for the soul. Maybe you could write the chapter on sex edition.....

    Jim - Amen on the literature. Most of it is feel-good fluff, very little on living the solution. They could incorporate a bunch of pamphlets into one and pitch a whole bunch more.
    And don't get me going on the Daily Reflections. They're fine for the individual but when I hear one read as a topic of discussion at a meeting, I cringe. Leads to "Oh, that's my favorite" shit. How about discussing how you apply that stuff to your life? I know what the fucking books say. Discuss how you use the shit. Solution, solution, solution.

  25. First, I'll throw down what my "grand-sponsor" Frank said about dual addiction, then my experience in trying to deal with it.

    Big Frank said that besides being an alcoholic, that he had big feet... and that they hurt alot. But he said that he wasn't there to discuss his big feet in an A.A. group/meeting. He said that the problem with discussing dual addiction is that when the heat got too heavy on one problem, the afflicted would just jump back to the other problem. Either you're alky or you're not. Address that on first and foremost in A.A.

    Now, I went to a closed A.A. meeting one day and had to chair the thing. A lady showed up with a group of military folks with PTSD. I was confused how to proceed... kick the folks out based on the fact that it's a closed A.A. meeting or open it up. I chose the later. The meeting sucked. I spoke with my "sponsor" about the experience and he told me I did a bad thing. He asked me, "Who do you think you are? God? You have no experience in that affliction, so you offer no hope to them. It's not your experience. It's not your business."

    Singleness of purpose... solve the one affliction and see what happens with the other.

    I don't agree with anyone who says that alcohol is a drug or that being an alcoholic is an addiction. Anyone can be an addict. Anyone can be a non-addict. Alcoholism is different for the real alcoholic.

    Agree or disagree with that as you wish. This is where I stand on that.

    "When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically."

  26. Patrick, That's what I thought at first. Stick to the alcoholism. And I agree with your sponsor. It's a closed meeting and you can attend if you think you have a problem with alcohol. All others come to an open meeting. But the fucking world won't end and maybe one of the folks got something. Who knows?

    But I'm not dealing with a meeting here where it's cut and dried as to who can be there. At a meeting we talk about alcohol. That's it. No drugs, no big feet, no PTSD (which isn't an addiction anyway). I'm dealing with a person. An alcoholic. He accepts that fact. He's been hanging back on his 4th step and has finally told me why. He's addicted to gambling. He was afraid to admit it, but he finally did to me. He won $68k last week and that would have paid off a lot of his bills. He gambled it all away instead. Seems that's been his history as well as alcoholism. It's a cluster fuck.

    If it was drugs and alcohol it would be a lot simpler. But Pathological Gambling is a different sort of beast. If I don't address the gambling it's as if I let him slide with a major character defect, only worse. It's an addiction as damaging as alcoholism in most respects, and if we don't work on recovering from that while we're working on recovering from alcoholism, he won't be successful in either.

    Singleness of purpose is fine, and that's how I'm gonna try to handle it. But it's a four lane highway here, and he has two of them that have to be plowed at the same time. So I'm going to try a singleness of purpose as applied to both his addictions at the same time. But like I said before, I'm going to keep them separated and unique. The chips aren't going to fall anywhere if I solve only one affliction because I can't solve one without solving the other. It'll be a fucking pop-a-mole game if I don't.

    I admit I'm on shaky ground here. It's virgin territory. I haven't met anyone yet who's run into this problem, so I can't benefit from someone else's experience. I'm not 100% sure if I'm doing the right thing. I don't think I'm God and know well I have no experience with gambling addiction. But I'm the guy's sponsor. So it's my business.

  27. I had a 12th-Step call this morning. It was the father of a guy who is bi-polar and alcoholic. The son took himself off his meds and started drinking again. When speaking to the father, I asked him if his son wanted help to stop drinking and if he was willing to seek professional help for his bi-polar disorder. He said that he was afraid the son was going to hurt himself. Again I asked him if his son wanted help. He put the son on the phone. It was very obvious that this was a serious thing going on, the guy was telling me he wanted to die and talked about hurting himself. I asked him why he took himself off the meds and did he want help for both his problems. He told me stop yelling at him, which I wasn't. I asked to speak with the father again. The father wanted me to come and take his son to an A.a. meeting. I told him that a meeting wouldn't do any good, that the guy needs professional help, because in my layman's opinion he is a threat to himself and he wouldn't be able to address the alcoholism until the bi-polar was leveled out. I told him that if the son wouldn't seek help voluntarily to call 911 and tell them that he had a subject who is a mentally ill alcoholic who is possibly suicidal. I then told him (the father) that he should seek help for himself and gave him the numbers for a support group for parents of mentally ill children and for Al-Anon.

    Like I said, I'm just a layman, but I have experience with mentally ill suicidal alcoholics. Maybe it's providential that I got the call instead of some well-meaning but ignorant A.A. member who would have taken the kid to a meeting.

  28. Good call, Jim. Yeah, the kid was lucky that you took the call. Bi-Polar is serious shit mental illness. I have one of those, too, as a sponsee (I must wear a fucking sign or something) but this kid id on his meds. In his case we deal with the alcoholism and nothing else. Bi-Polars go off their meds because they like the manic high so much they're willing to suffer from the suicidal depressive side.

    I wouldn't have thought of trying to deal with that situation in any other manner than you did. That kid needs to be in a hospital. Nothin' AA is gonna do for him unless he gets some serious psychiatric help.

  29. To all:
    Maybe an answer would be to simply start a group or meeting that does things your way.
    Mine would omit all the readings, as well as the "drunkalogs" and concentrate on practical methods of keeping sober and living right TODAY.
    I like the slogans, and would keep them - forget the rest, and no photographs of you-know-who...
    We would invite doctors, nurses, and others with addiction treatment experience to speak at some meetings.
    We would never sign court slips for anyone who might be sent there; attendance should only be voluntary, and AA should not have allowed itself to become an extension of the court system.
    It only takes two people to make an AA group, so how could GSO or local offices deny recognition to a meeting like this?
    Something must be done soon, or the topic may change to "What will AA's future replacement be like?".
    Now you see why I am considered a heretic, but I believe that radical methods are required for major problems that resist solution by other methods.
    Thank you for your interest.

  30. Ralph, you might like Danny's Blog; http://recoveredalcoholic.blogspot.com/

    What's the difference between a drunkalogue and qualifying? When I share, specifically on the first step, I talk about booze. I drank a fuckload and that's part of my truth. I didn't get here by spilling a few drinks around. I drank like a creature and acted like hell on wheels. I didn't drive drunk. I drove in a fucking blackout. I was a blackout driver. But after a time, even when I was tearing the town up, I sometimes had the sense to stay the fuck out of a vehicle and make my way on foot. But I'd still manage to get thrown in to a jail cell, a detox, a psych ward, or a hospital. It wasn't fucking pretty and if anybody cannot match me experiences or at least relate, find something else besides A.A. Maybe start a scrap book club or something.

    Joe, sorry about your sponsee. Hope things work out for him quick. I knew a guy who came to A.A. in Denver who was also a gambler. He was a carpenter/remodeler and would take money up front to do work and gamble it away. To me, this looks like stealing, but... whatever you want to call it. But he also thought he was an alky. He said he was going to go gamble up his last bit of money to make enough to pay his debtors for once and for all, and if he lost, he was going to blow his brains out. He lost. He sat in his hotel room with a loaded gun and a bottle of booze. He drank the booze and got too drunk to blow his brains out. The next day, he said he was too chicken-shit to do it.

    Moral of the story? IDK. Maybe a gambler would get something from it.

  31. We've already done that Ralph. Some of us got together and restructured an existing group. We do the 164 end that's it. Our meeting is closed. No readings and no chanting at the end. We adhere to the Traditions, not the letter of them, but the Spirit of them. We don't stand against attendance slips, but we aren't for them either. In fact we don't even mention them.

    We don't offer pamphlets. We don't offer slogans. We don't hand you a meeting schedule with phone numbers and think that we are doing 12th-Step work. We offer one thing and thing only-sponsorship. If you walk down those stairs into that church basement, you will see and hear an A.A. group doing what it is supposed to do. We'll make you welcome if you are alcoholic.

    We aren't interested in appealing to the masses and we aren't having a membership drive. Most of the MOTR's stay away from us and most of the court and treatment ordered people stay away from us. That's fine. We don't want any dead weight hanging around sucking the life out of the group. But yet the group is growing when other meetings are struggling. Why? Because we haven't re invented the wheel and added a bunch of bells and whistles. We do A.A. We do A.A. and we have fun doing it. We have potlucks and parties and travel to visit other groups. We're serious as a heart attack about what we do and that's why we love doing ot.

    Does it mean we are an elite group? No, just an A.A, group as defined by the long form of Tradition Three and by the six points that define n A.A. group. Nothing fancy and nothing special.

  32. Damn, Jim. Sound just like my closed men's group! We've been in business a little over two years with the principle of sticking to the basics. It's a discussion group but God help the guy who whips out the BB and starts to read. We know that the book says, what the fuck do you say?

    We've scared some guys away and that's fine. They want the easier, softer way they have 292 meetings around here to choose from. But we've more than doubled in number in the past year.

    The new guys come to hear AA. It's funny that a lot of the also come to find a good sponsor 'cause they've heard that we're a no-bullshit group. And I don't recall a single slip to be signed, but I may have missed them if they were sent up. We have no position either way on that issue.

    Ralph, The idea of inviting doctors and others with addiction treatment experience to speak is kind of interesting. It would be a good break from listening to countless drunkalogs that spend all the time on what they did rather than telling us their solutions. Can you imagine a guy like Fr Martin talking to your group about Relapse or the 4th step? Yowza! I think the only qualification I would make is that the speaker be a recovering alcoholic. And you'd have no problems with GSO acknowledging that you're an AA group. Just say you're one and you get the magic number. If you ever want to leave the snow in Western N.Y. head on down to Virginia Beach - you'll be a heretic no more.

    Patrick -You're got me beat on the jails, psych wards, and tearing the town up. No question. But unless you drank over 2 ltrs a day you're still a rookie. But yeah, I can relate. We all thought the same, just maybe didn't behave the same. And thanks for your concern for my sponsee. I'll keep everyone posted on how that works out. I may be writing the definitive book on this issue before it's over. Hope it's the book on how to do it right, not how to fuck it up royally.

  33. But I'd like to qualify this bit of info too... when I was in jail for alcoholic wreckage of my past on one occasion, a guard asked me this... "What's a nice kid doing in a place like this?" I responded that I'm not always so nice when I drink too much.

    Two liters is about a half gallon? If I was really tying one on, I guess I could go through a quart or two of bourbon if I had it handy. But sometimes I'd black out and fly off the handle before I got there. I was sort of a binge drinker. Sometimes the bartender wouldn't 86 me, I guess because I was a good tipper, but I'd get cut off. My fellow companions would tell me that I wouldn't let that stop me. I'd go sit with strangers like they were my long lost buddies and I'd drink their drinks. My blackout drinking seemed to progress in all of my last drinking bouts.

  34. Heck, McGowdog, I even grew to like my blackouts - they were better than the memories!
    The drunkalogs I've heard here are all the same - lots of hyped drinking stories, and little of living today stories. I used to simply get up and walk out in the middle of many. Rude? sure, but I have my limits.

  35. How do you conclude when a drinking story is hyped?

    Read Chapter 7 and see how it fits with this topic.

    When I share my drinking history with a new prospect, I get amped up. If he gets amped up too... that tells me something.

    Living in the now? For me, that would be my experience in steps 10, 11, and walking the beam of "in all our affairs" as I pitch new drunks here and there, what more is there to talk about? You sure ain't gonna hear much about steps 10 and 11 in A.A. meetings. Not the mainstream ones anyway. Watch, ask, discuss, turn, carry, pause... consider, ask God to remove self pity, dishonest, self-seeking motives, and the 10 retire at night considerations? That's what you want to hear about?

    It all boils down to this; I don't want to drink booze today and it's not my doing. What is my doing is working with all that other stuff.

  36. You know Ralph, depends on what you mean by "drunkalog." If it is the variety that you hear at First Step halls in which each person talks all about "What it was like" (never mind that the book says "What I was like", and it turns into a big pissing match about who was the worst drunk, a kind of "Top this" thing, then I'm with you.

    On the other hand, if the speaker is fairly new, I listen attentively. It gives me a chance to put myself in his shoes when and if I approach him afterwards, or he approaches me, however it turns out.

    Myself, I am not too attached to what it was like anymore. When I speak from the podium I talk about it. Not necessarily how much I drank, but how I drank-the phenomenon of craving, the mental twist, the being baffled, the remorse, the self-hate, the self-pity, the guilt, the isolation and loneliness. Also about how alcohol, when it first worked, woke up something in me that needed to awakened and how I pursued that for seventeen years. I think if you are an alkie the way I understand it, booze needs to do something for you before it does something to you.

    The whole point is identification. My drunkalog is not for me to remember how bad it was, because remembering how bad it was never kept me sober. My drinking story is for the new man. He has to be able to identify with me and know that I know what I'm talking about from personal experience before I can do anything for him.

  37. I use the drunkalog to explain how I became what I was - a product of my environment. Parents who invented the "don't ask, don't tell", never learned to develop personal relationships, poor communication, non-existent positive emotions. I was the model for Simon and Garfunkle's "I Am A Rock".

    Shitty skills as an adult caused marital stress. Drinking relieved that. As Charlie C. said, I never drank to get drunk, I drank to get "there". When I was "there" everything was good. Drinking did something for me that I couldn't do myself. But chasing the "there" was harder and harder. I crossed the line and drinking became a requirement. Life started to suck big time. Alcoholic run rampant.

    I try to keep that part of the story short, but long enough so everyone can relate to what happened and why. Then I move on to what the program did for me. Relationship with God and with other people. Developed positive emotions, learned how to live live on life's terms. How I handle anger, stress, frustration and all that shit. Spiritual awakenings over time, character changed. How I live in the "there" now. Spirituality.

    Whole point I try to get across is to stop dwelling on the problem and start living in the solution. Work the program as the Big Book tells us. Get a sponsor, join a good home group. No halfway measures here. Work the steps and live the steps. And they'll find as I did that life is good.

  38. "After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking. Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself. If he wishes to talk, let him do so. You will thus get a better idea of how you ought to proceed. If he is not communicative, give him a sketch of your drinking career up to the time you quit. But say nothing, for the moment, of how that was accomplished. If he is in a serious mood dwell on the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture."

    "If his mood is light, tell him humorour stories of your escapades. Get him to tell some of his."

    But don't dare talk about drinking fucking booze in an A.A. meeting. Talk about baseball or fucking tits or something.

  39. Damn, Patrick is a thumper. Guys I know would also give me the page number (91). And that's all good stuff when I'm doing a 12 step call, but when I'm talking to 100 people it's a little different. I just came from a detox center and had 10 minutes to talk to 8 guys. Like the book says, it's all in figuring out how to proceed.

    Last Sunday it was 50. Those folks were for the most part members of AA, but not much sobriety in a lot of them. So I try and get them to relate to my life and how my drinking evolved. Why I drank so much fucking booze, or at least why I thought I did. What happened because I drank so much and what the program did for me. Shit I learned when I got sober.

    When folks come up after and tell me that they can relate to everything I said or that their story is just like mine, I know I got through. They listened to the whole story, including the solution. That's the whole point of me standing up there - the fucking solution.

    Tomorrow night I take a meeting to the jail. Different crowd, different approach. These guys can't relate to my lifestyle, only my drinking. In each case, though, it comes down to this is what AA is and what it's done for me. Simple message.

  40. McGowdog:
    "Our stories disclose in a general manner what we were like, what happened, and what we are like today" (I am quoting from memory, so please forgive any errors).
    What I call drunkalogs concentrate on the first part only, and go on at length. That's one matter at a speaker meeting, but in a discussion meeting it becomes a selfish denial of the needs of others to speak.
    I remember the first true drunkalog I heard: the out-of-town guest speaker talked at length of his drinking (and only that), adding that he had been arrested 666 times during his drinking career. This figure stuck in my mind, and I wondered how he actually kept track of the number (the Book of Revelations notwithstanding).
    Some time after the meeting ended, after I shot pool with my friends at the AA club where the meeting had been, I walked to the bus stop, having been temporarily "grounded" by the courts.
    On the way was a bar, about a quarter mile from the club. Looking into the bar I saw...
    Mr. 666 arrests, with a drink in his hand and another sitting on the bar next to him, regaling the bartender with what was probably more of the same B.S. that he had shared with the AA members earlier!
    That is what I call a "drunkalog', and I have heard more than a few others of the type as well.
    Not to continue on in a negative manner (Stinkin Thinkin holds the field on that), I would like to point out how refreshing it has been to read comments on this thread that actually explore possible solutions to problems that we are all aware of.
    You folks are in one lane of the road to recovery, the MOTR people are walking the center line, and I am in the opposite lane, BUT - we are all on the same road, going the same way, and I hope that we don't ever overlook that simple truth.
    If your preferred way of maintaining sobriety works for you, well then, it must be right! Just please allow me and others the same right to choose our own lane and speed.
    BTW: It was refreshing to visit Daniel S.' site (I thought all the true hippies had died back in the 60's)! A very decent person, and a devout Christian (although his version of the Lord's Prayer is probably Gnostic in origin). Thank you for calling his site to my attention, McGowdog, and good luck with the CDL (my father drove all his working life).

  41. Thanks Ralph! I just passed the General, air brakes, and combination vehicles test. Don't need the hazmat.

    Nice to hear some nice comments about the blog. The authors here have found the A.A. method to work and are not necessarily in agreement with what's become of A.A. But we've all found our place in recovery and have found some niche in this altruistic obligation of showing those willing to try what we've found.

    Ralph, if you have a gmail account, go to my profile and send me your email and I'll make you a author... where you can post your own topics here. Not the fanciest blog by a longshot. But it's here to serve some of us that have been cast out, banned, and edited. I can't say I haven't censored here before. I don't like being called names and stuff, but to leave the rants of our adversaries up seems even more effective. Whenever I get off the path there are folks here who let me know when I'm being an asshole. As I go along on this avocation, I'll better know how to listen to our critics and sort out what's valid and what's just intolerance.

    Good to have you here. It's been kind of slow in here, but we are growing ever so slowly. We are not a popularity contest for sure.

  42. Thanks, McGowdog, I may well take you up on your offer.
    I am not absolutely against ALL censorship; there are cases where posts just beg to be deleted, and their writers blocked from further posting. Sort of like the old saw about crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater..
    just so long as fairness is the rule in the usage of censorship, I'm OK with it. That wasn't the case with Tony J over at ST, and I couldn't tolerate that.
    Maybe if you could think of your site as a seed (mustard, maybe?) you would get a slightly different perspective of what you're doing.

  43. Hey Ralph, Come on over. McDowdog said true in that we're all not necessarily in agreement sometimes, but we're all focused on sobriety and telling others what worked for us.

    I like the arguments as they reflect that we're a group of guys who aren't slaves to a particular way of thinking. We all believe in AA, but are not blinded to it's philosophy. We see recognize what's good in AA and what's not so good. We learn by listening to each others viewpoints.

    Hey Patrick, I'd love to have folks who aren't necessarily in the same lane as we are join up. Let's talk rather than stay in the attacks/defend mode. Lets listen to suggestions for improving what we do. Let's talk alternatives when we discuss a particular issue. Constructive criticism is a good thing.
    We have a philosophy of "agree to disagree" which you won't find anywhere else.

    Ralph has a good idea - plant a mustard seed and maybe start getting different perspectives. We do that and maybe we'll start attracting more followers, people who are interested in the AA program but not the pissing contests generated by Orange et.al. That way we can focus on solutions, which is what we should be doing anyway.

  44. Yeah, I even want to hear about some non-AA recoveries and why they work... aka what's good about them.

    If there was one point the Orange crowd made that would have me wondering if they had our best interest at hand, it would be in the claim that abstinence might lead some to a worse fall. Is this the AA camp that's claimed this or the harms reductions camp?

    Anywho, another topic for discussion.

  45. I like Joe Cool's idea of amending the Big Book - it's far better than mine about rewriting it!
    Leaving the original 164 pages in front, and adding new pages after would create a book similar to the Bible in layout.
    As you all well know, the New Testament built upon the Old Testament without changing a word of it, but instead fulfilled it's original purpose.
    And since the New Testament was created from the works of several authors over a period of a few decades, the newer Big Book could be done by several authors over the years.
    Since AAWS would probably not OK any additions or alterations to the Big Book at this time, a separate book by an independent publisher would be necessary.
    This collection of writings or articles could be electronic, audio, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, or plain old paper.
    I'm just brainstorming here, so of course I'll need plenty of help (heh, heh)!
    So long for now; I've gotta rest before cleaning even more snow from my walks and driveway (hard to get good servants these days).

  46. I'm going to have to part ways here about the amending of the book. Do you guys want to know where Narcotics Anonymous went wrong? They took something simple and decided that their "program" should be special. They basically reinvented the wheel and complicated the hell out of it.

    I don't many of the stories in the 4th edition. But the basic text is the same. Now, I won't own a 4th edition, but not because of the stories. I won't own it because of the circumstances under which it was printed.

    As for being educated concerning the more recent discoveries about alcoholism, addiction, and mental illness, I'm all for it. There is plenty of material out there, but it is a matter of sifting the wheat from the chaff.

    I guess what I'm saying, is that it is up to us as individuals to become more informed because people pit their lives in our hands on a daily basis.

  47. Yeah, the Big Book is best left alone. It was just an idea I threw out but the more I think about it the more I conclude that the answer lies elsewhere. A separate book is probably the best solution.

    As Jim brought up, the biggest problem would be separating the wheat from the chaff. New stuff is being discovered every day. Shit makes the headlines and then disappears. So what's appropriate and what's not?

    I think that the more technical aspect of alcoholism, addiction etc. (genetics, brain chemistry, and so on) would be of little value to the average AA member. And that's the shit that changes every day, too, so it would be hard to keep up with. But information about dual addictions, mental health issues co-occurring with alcoholism, successes in other treatment programs, and so on may be some topics worth addressing. There are probably a shitload more.

    But what vehicle is the best to get this stuff on the streets? How about a website? Maybe a blog? Shit, I come across reference to this blog a lot when I Google some specifics about alcoholism or AA.

    If we started talking about some of the stuff I mentioned and attracted others to the discussion from Google, that would be a start. There's always the problem of assholes from Orange etc. attacking rather than discussing, but we could handle that. But we'd start getting ideas out there on the street and that's always a good thing.

    Maybe this should be in the form of a new post. Should Macdowghouse be the cutting edge? I dunno. But I'll throw it out there for comments.

  48. Just Googled Mcgowdoghouse and got over 800 hits, and Mcgowgog had over 9000. There's an audience out there....

  49. "As you all well know, the New Testament built upon the Old Testament without changing a word of it, but instead fulfilled it's original purpose."

    Well, I may go straight to hell for saying this... but I'm of the belief that the New Testament is a pretty good book... as in integris and true...right up there with the A.A. book. But, the Old Testament is ... as a whole... bullshit. Take Genesis and a couple of other portions of it and throw the rest out. Man-made bullshit or something.

    "(hard to get good servants these days)"

    Well as the A.A. book says... "To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him."

    Now the Carpenter Himself... now there was a Servant!

    If you want service, learn to serve. If you pray potatoes, reach for the hoe.

    I love the 164... but I'm still kind of iffy about some of the last four chapters. I'm starting to become more open-minded about that though.

  50. I was JOKING about "finding good servants", guys! It's an old comedians line, so you probably haven't heard it before. I am just a retired carpenter, so I couldn't afford any kind of servant anyway (and wouldn't want one if I could)!
    McGowdog, putting the Big Book on the same level with the Bible has been a cause of a lot of justified criticism of AA. It pushes AA across the fine line between spirituality and religion. As far as the Old Testament goes, there are parts of it (the so-called historical section) that I don't pay much heed to, but still would never discard them. Remember, this is the same gospel that Jesus studied so well. It was His interpretation of Tanach that got Him on the rabbi's *hit list.
    On the Big Book: one problem that I have with it is that it prescribes one solution only (the 12 steps) for all alcoholics, regardless of the severity of their disease, or their basic personalities, including spiritual makeup.
    "One size fits all" very often means "one size fits no one very well".
    Another problem is that it doesn't really address the mental and physical aspects of alcohol addiction.
    I think that you may be just spinning your wheels if you want to reform AA without changing any of it; in my opinion it simply can't be done.
    Separating wheat from chaff is what life is all about. Start with the idea that "no human power could have relieved our alcoholism" - you still believe that today? Yet, I would have to listen to that actual statement if I were to attend an AA meeting tomorrow.
    I told you that I am regarded as a heretic, but then so was Martin Luther and a good many others. I see AA today as needing reform as much as the RC church of the middle ages needed reform (and still does, as well as many other churches).

  51. I don't believe that Alcoholics Anonymous pretends to be "the solution" for alcoholism or for all alcoholics. I know that quite a few of the members are arrogant enough to state that it is the only way. I know that the 12 Step path isn't for everyone and I'm for any approach that will help an alcoholic recover, whatever that may be. I don't claim to have "the" answer, but I have an answer and I don't believe that there is a right way and wrong way to get sober and stay sober. But I believe that there is a best way for some of us and that way is laid out in the 12 Steps.

    As for the book not addressing the physical & mental aspects of alcoholism, it does address those aspects. It addresses them in simple "Little Red Hen Language," not in medical terms. All an alcoholic needs to know to make peace with himself as to whether he is alcoholic or not is "Can I control the amount I take once I start?" and "Can I stay away from booze when the need arises?" I consider myself fairly well educated in the field, but to get technical when working with newly sober alcoholics serves no purpose. It is academic, useless information. Simply put, I have a body that can't drink and left untreated, a mind that always drinks.

    Myself, when I think of reforming A.A., I'm not thinking of changing the program of recovery. I'm thinking of the fellowship itself. But, as I have said before, I think it has gone too far. The fellowship as it is known today can fall of the face of the earth and I'll be OK. I have a book and I know where there are some drunks in this town.

  52. Ralph, The Big Book was never intended to be a "one size fits all" approach to alcoholism. Bill W. repeatedly said that AA doesn't have a monopoly on sobriety. He wrote the Big Book as A program, not THE program. He put together something that worked for him (at first, just helping another alcoholic) and expanded that into the program as we know it today.

    I'm in AA because it's the only fucking thing that's worked for me. That's why we're all in it. If something else had worked, or if I was able to stop drinking by sheer will power, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this tonight. The Big Book only describes one solution because it IS only one solution. It's not a fucking encyclopedia of sobriety. It's one way. Not the only way, just one.

    Yeah, AA has to change. We all agree on that. How and how much we may not agree upon. There's other stuff going on out there, and we should be aware of it. Does it mean forgo the steps, change the 164, or dilute the program into pap and pronouncements? Fuck no!

    Bill said that AA had to evolve or it would die. Evolution means change, but more in the growth of the program than in the revision of it. AA can evolve without losing it's set of core values. Other people are doing some good things in the field of alcoholism treatment. Let's take the blinders off and look at what they're doing. Maybe we can learn something. Let AA grow.

    I need to know everything I can learn about an alcoholic walking in the doors. What other issues does he have? We're seeing shit now (or at least recognizing it) that we didn't see 30 years ago. Cross addictions like Pathological Gambling, Sex Addiction, mental disorders. This shit will interfere with recovery unless it's recognized and dealt with. I'd like to know some of this stuff if I sponsor a guy. Maybe I can help him and maybe he needs a lot more that AA can give him. But unless I understand whether or not he's got other problems, I can't do a decent job as a sponsor. I need a picture of the whole man if I can get it. The only way I'm going to recognize issues other than alcoholism is be being educated about them.

    Do I believe that no human power could have relieved me of my alcoholism? Yes, I believe that. That's why I'm in AA. But you can still be in AA without accepting it. The steps are "suggested as a program of recovery." It's not fucking dogma. Why is that so fucking hard for so many people to understand? We offer a program that's worked for us. It's that simple. One alcoholic helping another. And the theological issues? Not gonna go there.

  53. Jim:
    I wouldn't change the eleventh step under any circumstances! It perfectly sums up my belief in God!
    The problem is that when I first came into AA (court-ordered) that step and several others really turned me off. I thought I was an atheist, conveniently forgetting all the prayers and promises and deals I had made with God in the "greybar hotel" that they had just released me from! I was that spiritually sick, as were so many others in my situation. The 12 steps were all that AA had, and they just couldn't work for me, because of my mindset. So, I worked my own pieced-together program, which consisted of strenuous physical workouts, Antabuse, and the help of many others (my family, doctors, the law, and the companionship of some friends in AA).
    Please don't misunderstand me and think that I see no value at all in AA. I just wasn't able to be receptive to its' message.
    Today I have made my peace with God, but still don't expect Him to do for me what I can do for myself. I don't even expect Him to do for me what I can't do for myself, but suspect that He might have done just that from time to time.
    BTW, McGowdog: I really liked your photos of Pueblo when I looked at them some time ago, but failed to say so. I have been called a "serious amateur" photographer, and have even done some work on behalf of Eastman Kodak. I am getting back into 35mm (!) as of late, and the resolution and color of that format is something I had forgotten. Have you tried it yourself?

  54. Hi Ralph,
    I don't think you are unique in your experience. In fact, your initial experience is not that much different than mine. I had the attitude of if there is a God he certainly hasn't done anything for me. That evolved into "God can and will is sought." Or rather "God better can or I'm fucked." You see, I was at a place of total surrender. I knew that I was hopeless and it didn't matter what I had to do or where I had to go. My sponsor told me that we don't know how to surrender to God, so we surrender to the process, and that's what I did. I took the simple position outlined in Step 3. That simple idea has evolved into something beyond conception. These days I'm more interested in consciousness than conception. I spoke on Monday night and I made the statement that after twenty years, I'm not so sure that I believe in God. Some eyebrows were raised by that remark. I went on to say that it goes beyond belief, it is too big for that. More of an experience than an idea.

    Ralph, your pieced together program obviously worked for you, and I'm glad for that. I may be an orthodox by-the-book AA, but I'm not inflexible or rigid enough to deny you the right to be sober and happy in your own way. In fact, if I apply the 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts to my life, I can't not let you be happy in your own way.

  55. I'm sure the bible is fine... if passed down and written properly... and if taken in the proper context. Most don't.

    Jesus did.

    I think A.A. is A-ok and needs no change.

    It folks would spend 2 minutes doing something and 2 minutes less pissing and moaning, it might work

  56. Ralph! I did a job out in Rochester several years ago.

    Check out some of my pics at www.city-data.com/forum under the same username.

  57. Hello to all!
    I'm just getting in after another silent visit to Stinkin Thinkin. I was struck by the difference between that forum and yours; the negativity and hatred shown between posters on ST, compared to the civility and respect here.
    I cannot imagine what an actual physical meeting of the posters from ST would be like, but would certainly wear body armor if I had to attend one (heck, there would probably only be just the one meeting).
    One of ST's favorite claims is that AA is a "dangerous place to be". Gunthar happily reported that a man who was court-ordered into AA in 1992 and was eventually arrested for a murder in 2010, "proves" that AA is a hazard to the health of anyone attending meetings.
    Haven't the folks at ST ever followed the media stories about school and workplace shootings, or the routine drug-related killings in every city in our country?
    The truth is, there are no "safe" places these days, if there ever were.
    McGowdog: I didn't know you were in Rochester, but I haven't lived in that city for many, many years. It's about twice the size of Pueblo, and has averaged about 40 to 50 homicides a year for decades. That's just the actual killings, not the simple shootings, stabbings, etc. It is unsafe to drive around anywhere at night, and only a little better in the daytime.
    Yet, there have only been a very few fistfights only that I have heard about that could be associated with AA meetings, and those were all outside the meeting rooms. Just the usual scuffles over injured feelings, with very minor injuries to the participants.
    BTW: ST's latest brainstorm is to perhaps get a blog call-in show to promote their agenda (and no doubt FTG's upcoming book), and I cannot help think what an easy, stationary target AA has become for people like those as long as it resists all change. Where is the "evolution" that others here have stated that Bill W. called for?
    "If it works don't fix it" doesn't mean one should eliminate preventive maintenance!

  58. Ralph, you bringing up the topic of the folks at ST claiming that A.A. meetings are a dangerous place brings this to mind:

    During the "troubles" in northern Ireland, Catholics & Protestants were known to actually leave their weapons at the door and go inside and peacefully have an A.a. meeting, maybe even pray together.

    I've seen a few chairs thrown and tables flipped at he local hall here. Hell, when I was a few months sober I winged a heavy glass ashtray across the room at a guy that said something that pissed me off. No worse than your usual bar brawl.

    Here's how I see how A.A. (the fellowship) could evolve. It could start living by the principles that we already have. Individuals could actually do the steps and make them a way of living. Then you would have groups of individuals who have recovered and are living a spiritual way of life. These groups could actually put the principles embodied in the Traditions and Concepts into use. Then we would have healthy, growing, vital groups. If anything, I think A.A. (the fellowship) has devolved into what it is now and is continuing to whither. Like I have said before, who cares if the FTG's and the MA's and the Oranges and the Stanton Peeles take potshots at A.A? They aren't the ones who are killing A.A. It is rotting from within.

    Change or die, Don P. always said. That goes for the group as well as the individual. Grow or go.

  59. Hey Ralph, I might add that I promise that I won't throw an ash tray at you if you disagree with me or piss me off.

    Those days are long gone. I still have a temper, but my emotional nature doesn't run me anymore.

  60. Hello, Jim (and everyone else):
    I liked the story about Ireland; seems that AA accomplished there what many of the churches could not!
    I had a crazy temper like yours, and actually once threw an ashtray myself at a guy who had really insulted me at a coffeehouse. Tackled him an instant later, and it took 3 or 4 people to pull me off him before I pounded him into the floor. I hit him so hard and so many times that my right hand was useless for work for four days. Very bad scene, and it should have been a wakeup call for me that just quitting drinking might not be enough...if I didn't work on my other faults, I was essentially just the same S.O.B. as I often was when drunk!
    That's where the spiritual part of AA is useful, at least as I understand it. It wasn't what I needed to get sober, but it could have been helpful in staying sober and being a kinder, more human person had I stuck around and worked on my character defects.
    I still believe though, that character strengths should be included in any inventory, so they can counterbalance the defects and possibly be developed.
    It occurred to me earlier that this thread is a meeting of sorts in itself. Have you thought of passing out this blog's address (with McGowdog's approval) to others that you see at meetings, so they could join in these discussions? If they pass the news along to still others they know in other meetings, this blog could find hundreds of contributors showing up in a very short time!
    I truly believe that people will amaze you and will never let you down in the long run if you just let them contribute what their hearts tell them to.
    Take care,
    Ralph (formerly the rotten red cat)

  61. uhhh... I hate to be a Debbie Downer to your plans and hopes but... my face to face peeps would think this internet recovery stuff was a ridiculous waste of time. I've hinted to a few of my A.A. peeps some of these forums and even my blog and it's been met with absolutely nothing... no comments, no positive or negative criticism... nothing. I just don't think they find the time for it.

    Only a certain percentage of us live in this cyber world. Not for this stuff anyway. The few peeps that I know on here seem as real to me as it gets though... and I'd like to know you folks in the f2f world if given the chance. I've spoken to most of you over the phone by now. I came close to meeting with Joe when I was in Charlottesville Virginia... just didn't have the time to break away from the work to do so.

  62. hmmm...
    I was thinking not so much about recovery, perhaps, but about new ideas. I'm surprised about your conclusions, but really have no experience to contradict them.
    What do you mean by the "f2f" world? (remember, I'm from a different time)!
    Be careful not to burn out with all you're doing here plus in the rooms, working, family life, etc. You're only human, and many recovering alkies seem to overlook that. I did, and 90 hour work weeks eventually knocked me down good.
    Enjoying my retirement now, even with all the problems that "old" age brings; loss of family and friends through death, reduced income, whatnot... freedom from the ratrace and lots of personal time are valuable.

  63. Maybe my life is out of whack here from the mainstream.

    I'd like to hear others' input on this... but they may be spending more of their current time in the f2f world.

    Oh, that darned word again. f2f= face to face.

    90 hour work weeks! That's not work, that's slavery. Glad you're now free of that.

    I'm free from having to go to more than a couple of meetings or a meeting a week. Of this I am proud.

  64. I gotta go with Patrick on the f2f thing. I can get some guys talking this shit outside a meeting, but they'll never take the time to get involved in any serious blog discussions. Too much effort. Remember, thinking is painful for some people.

    The best way to get others into these "discussions" is probably via Google. Like I said, McGowdoghouse gets a lot of hits. McGowdog even more, but that guy is a real publicity hound. Comes from living out of whack from the mainstream....Freudian thing. See Psychological Experience in his new post.

    90 hour weeks. Shit. I did more than that for 17 years when I owned a restaurant. Which may answer a whole lotta questions. You're right, Ralph, retirement is good. I can go to meetings or not. Mostly I choose to go. Fortunate to have a lot of meetings around here, and some are pretty damn good.

    And Dowg, there's always Skype. I see your address on my list of contacts. That way if you go off on a rant and throw an ashtray, worst thing that'll happen is my screen will go blank.

    Carry on.

  65. I've had some great discussions online and have met some great people I probably would have never met. However, it doesn't beat f2f.